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Friday, July 11, 2014

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Dandelions: From Domestic Difficulty to Divine Delicacy


dandelion fieldDandelions are the scourge of the modern landscape. In their quest to take over your lush green lawn, those cunning weeds have evolved sunny flowers and delicate puffballs that are irresistible to human children. Before you know it, your landscape is pockmarked with yellow blooms, gangly dandelion clocks and spiky weeds. You’re on your hands and knees in your yard trying to uproot them with dandelion forks, but for each dandelion plant you uproot, three more emerge.

What you may not know about those troublesome dandelions is that their flowers, leaves and roots are great sources of nutrition. For example, both ancient and modern health practitioners have speculated about possible health benefits of dandelion root tea. They’ve used the tea for supporting gastrointestinal health and to eliminate water weight.  In addition to brewing dandelion root tea, people also enjoy dandelion greens and petals in a variety of dishes. Take a look at a few ways to transform this garden pest into a gastronomical delight.

Dandelion Root Tea
dandelion root teaBefore making your own dandelion root tea, consider trying commercially prepared tea from a trusted resource. The tea may have a slight laxative effect, so you should drink it at night to avoid potential problems during the workday. If you like commercially prepared tea and you want to make your own, try this easy method from Laurie Neverman of “Common Sense Homesteading“:

  1. Assemble your ingredients. You’ll need an ounce of fresh dandelion root, or one-half ounce of dried dandelion root, per pint of hot water. Neverman suggests adding an equal part of burdock root to help the body detoxify.
  2. Pour the water into a non-reactive teakettle or saucepan. Avoid aluminum kettles, which may react with the root and affect the flavor.
  3. Add the dandelion root. Make sure not to chop or cut the root until just before you add it to the water. Waiting keeps vital nutrients from being lost before you make your tea.
  4. Bring the water and root to a simmer. Simmer the tea until it’s lost about one-fourth of its original volume.
  5. Strain the tea. Place a mesh strainer or a couple of layers of cheesecloth over the open top of serving teapot. Pour the tea from the kettle into the pot, and discard the spent dandelion roots.
  6. Serve the tea. You can store dandelion root tea for a short time in the refrigerator, but you should discard unused tea after three days.

Delicious Dandelion Eats
dandelion greensDandelion leaves and petals can be transformed into dinnertime delights. For example, Langdon Cook, author of the “Fat of the Land” blog and several books, suggests making dandelion tempura from flower heads:

  1. Heat the oil. Start by heating some vegetable oil until it’s bubbling.
  2. Mix the batter. While the oil heats, mix three-fourths cups of flour and one-fourth cup of corn starch in a small bowl. In a second bowl, combine a lightly beaten egg with one-half cup of ice-cold water. Then, combine the dry and wet ingredients, adding a bit of extra cold water if needed to give the batter a runny texture.
  3. Batter and fry the dandelion flowers. Roll rinsed dandelion flower heads in the runny batter, shake off the excess and drop the flowers into the hot oil. Remove them from the oil when they’re golden brown, and serve them with other lightly battered and fried vegetables such as zucchini and bell pepper.

You can also pick dandelion leaves, rinse them well and wilt them in a sauté pan. Heat the pan and briefly fry some bacon or pancetta until the fat renders out. Scoop out the meat and set it aside. Sauté the greens in the residual fat until they wilt. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper, add the meat back in and serve them in a bowl for a light summertime meal. Alternatively, add the wilted greens to soups or stir-fry dishes.

A Few Tips
Feel free to pick dandelions from your yard or gather them elsewhere, but avoid places where landscapers have sprayed weed killer. For example, never forage for dandelions near train tracks, interstate highways or telephone poles. Also, check the rules before foraging for dandelions in public parks. By following a few simple tips, you can transform dandelions from annoying weeds to fabulous food.

Dandelion field image by Vince Alongi on Flickr.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Avoid the Gimmicks: Reliable Ways to Get Rid of Medical Waste


We humans are always fascinated by the shock of the new. The latest gadget, the newest app or the most up-to-date car – we drool over these items more than a dog staring at a warm pork chop. But when it comes to medical waste, avoid all gimmicks – you want the tried, tested and true methods that have been honed for years. Indeed, as superbugs lurk down every corridor, pouncing on patients with a health-mugging, medical safety has never been more important. The letters MRSA have probably dominated the majority of news coverage in recent years, and neutralising it isn’t just the duty of antibiotics.

With effective pharmaceutical waste disposal, your medical practice – be it a miniscule GPs or a gargantuan hospital – will be able to combat germs and infections of all shapes and levels of severity. More than this, ineffective disposal will lead to poor publicity, as a Glasgow general practitioners recently found out. In local newspaper the Evening Times, it was reported that discarded rubbish and waste was being disposed of behind the surgery, leading to outrage from local residents. And bad PR equals bad business.

So what services should the alternative consumer find to make their medical practice as clean as can be?

Clinical Spillage Kit
Provided by specialist companies, a clinical spillage kit should contain everything you need to wipe up and disinfect areas where clinical waste has been spilled. Bear in mind that clinical waste is nothing like common-garden muck. Especially in a medical environment, this waste could contain hazardous diseases, including HIV, AIDS, hepatitis B or C and even smaller diseases such as E Coli or Mers.

With a clinical spillage kit you’ll have equipment to prepare you for every eventuality. It’ll put dangerous spills out of action for good.

Controlled Drug Denaturing Kit
Before out of date drugs can be disposed of, they must first be “denatured”, meaning they have to be altered to lose their strength. This isn’t just something you have to do if you feel like it – it’s in accordance with the Misuse of Drugs Regulation 2001.

The highest quality denaturing kits are the easiest to use, making the retrieval of old drugs a near impossibility. Drug addicts have been known to swarm around surgery waste in the hope of a quick fix. But you can stop all that with a simple purchase of these kits.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

non-toxic, organic sunscreen – block island organics


girl on beach

Full disclosure: this a “Tried and True Green Product Review”. Block Island Organics provided us with a variety of products for testing.

Founded by a brother-sister team and based out of Block Island, RI, Block Island Organics is on a mission to make suncare products safer and more effective for the whole family. The company makes mineral-based suncare products for both kids and adults and got its start out of a family-run eco spa on Block Island called Koru Eco Spa (www.koruecospa.com).

block island organics sunscreensBlock Island Organics products are formulated to be both safe and effective.  The sunscreens are non-toxic mineral-based (zinc and titanium), as opposed to chemical-based, and include a Baby SPF 30 (this product is zinc only), an SPF 15, SPF 30 (also zinc only) and SPF 40 product.  The products pack a lot of eco-friendly street cred. The entire product line is non-comedogenic, vegan formulated, paraben free, phthalate free, nano particle free, artificial fragrance free, non-eye irritating, not tested on animals, made in the USA and highly rated by one of our favorite orgs, the Environmental Working Group.

We tested the products in our sandy testing center located in super-sunny Palm Beach, Florida (we went to the beach). I tested the SPF 15 and Maureen tested the SPF 30. We found both sunscreens to work very effectively for the two hour testing period. Conditions included: full sun exposure, 87 degree temps and 5 mph breeze. We did a minor reapply after a quick swim and towel dry. Our only slightly negative note – the SPF 30 sunscreen leaves the slightest white film (probably the zinc) after application, though it really stays with you for full protection, which is the important thing. The products apply easily and come in handsome dispensers.

After 2 hours of sun exposure and a shower we applied Block Island’s sunburn relief product and found it to be ultra soothing and skin nourishing – a great apres-sun application. The Sunburn Relief product contains lidocaine, cucumber, aloe and is fragrance free. (more…)

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

New Shampoo & Conditioner for Every Body


 

Nourish Shampoo & Conditioner

full disclosure: for the purposes of this Tried and True Green Product Review, we received two complimentary bottles of EveryOne hair care products: Nourish Shampoo and Nourish Conditioner.

(above) … As a true test I simply washed, conditioned and after a quick towel dry, let my locks dry completely, naturally. No hair blower, no extra styling products. And my hair looks great – clean, full and with nice texture. Bonus, no itchy scalp. So awesome. Now that I live in Florida, my hair tends to be very dry.

Anyway, the purpose of Nourish is to provide hair extra protection from sun and wind. Quinoa and moisturizing Abyssinian Oil are intended to give dry hair and scalp an extra boost of love and hydration, while oat beta glucan improves elasticity, promotes cell growth and protects from UV rays – to keep all that extra moisture right where it belongs.

It’s formulated with pure plant extracts; it’s also nice to know that everything is GMO-free, Sulfate-free and gluten-free. Does it cost more than some conventional brands? Yes and No. It depends on the brand. It’s more than say, Garnier but less than designer/salon products. You don’t have to worry your pretty head about putting toxins on your skin or destroying precious natural resources while cleaning your hair. To me, that’s worth a lot. (more…)

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How to Avoid GMOs in Your Diet


usda organic non/gmo

Genetically modified organisms are commonly found in our fresh produce and processed foods and therefore easily within our reach in almost every food retail store in the United States. No matter how big or small the location is, whether you are buying a quick snack or dinner for the family, chances are the foods you are purchasing contain some form of a genetically modified organism. With rising concerns about GMOs, consumers are looking for ways to avoid genetically modified food products. This post is my version of a Consumers Guide on How to Avoid GMO Foods and keep your diet all natural.

  • First, the easiest way to avoid GM foods in your diet is to buy organic products. USDA organic products cannot include GMOs. Any product that is organic will have the USDA Organic seal located right on the packaging. Organic foods are GMO-free as well as pesticide, herbicide and fungicide free. The USDA organic seal is the best way to avoid GMO foods, if you see the seal then that product is GMO free. (Currently, food products that contain 95-100% certified organic ingredients can receive the USDA Organic seal of approval.)
  • Another way to stay GMO free is to look for the Non-GMO Project seal. The Non-GMO Project is a third party that will independently verify whether or not a product contains GM ingredients. This project is central to a non-profit organization that is committed to GMO labeling and providing consumers with the education to make informed decisions when purchasing food.
  • Avoid common genetically modified crops in the ingredients of the products you buy. The six most common GM crops are: corn, soy, squash, canola, alfalfa, and sugar beets. If you really want to avoid GMOs in your diet, avoid these crops unless they are certified organic or certified non GMO.
  • Sometimes you just want to enjoy a guilty pleasure, that you know is not healthy. Here are some products that will satisfy your craving while (more…)
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